I received that dreaded phone call on Thursday afternoon that she was going quick. An hour and a half later, Steven and I were in the car headed to San Antonio. That was the longest drive of my life. Stories and memories flooded my mind of shopping trips and fun times. It finally fell on the last time I’d seen her.
Tears filled my eyes on that ride to San Antonio as I recounted my grammee’s little quirks to Steven. He just smiled and offered his shoulder as I wept into his shirt. Hearing my dad cry on the phone might possibly been the thing that hurt the most. My dad is the head of his family… he is the strength, the pillar, but to hear him cry because he may never see his mom again made me a blubbering mess.
About 2 hours outside of the city, my sister called and asked me if I wanted to say goodbye over the phone just in case she didn’t make it. I didn’t understand how an infection could ravage her body so quickly, but by the time I said hello, she could only listen and not speak. What do you say to the woman who has loved you, held you, encouraged you and prayed for you every day for 28 years? Through broken words and slight sobs I said goodbye to my grammee. I told her that I was on my way, but that if she needed to go home and be with Jesus, I understood.
Steven continued to drive at a rather rapid pace and I prayed that I would get there in time. As we pulled up to the hospital doors, I jumped out to be met by my mom… I had made it, she was still with us. I walked into her room to see a woman I didn’t recognize. Her face was taut and her eyes were wide. This was not the plump faced, jolly woman that I had spent the majority of my childhood with, but she was still my grammee.
I drew my hand to her face and got real close to her and said, “I’m here Grammee.” Tears began to stream down my face as I told her over and over how much I loved her. She had waited for me. I was finally there and she had held out for me to get there. I choked back sobs as my sister, mom and I sang her favorite songs and kissed her face.
Finally, I whispered in her ear, “Its ok Grammee… you can go home now. We’ll see you soon.” They gave her morphine to make her comfortable and she slowly closed her eyes. We continued to sing and love on her for the next hour or so.
Her breathing slowed to 8 breaths per minute. Each breath was labored and seemed to take all that was in her just to push the air out of her lungs and pull it back in. And then she was gone. No dramatic exit. She just stopped breathing and slipped quietly into the arms of our Savior.
We cried, but she wasn’t. We wept, but she smiled as her eyes were changed and she saw the face of our Savior. I wondered out loud if she was immediately walking through the heavenly gates or if she stood next to us , comforting us, reminding us that she was no longer in pain. My heart broke, not for her, but for me. Never again would I get to hear her little voice say into the phone, “Hi little Jamie.” Never again would we laugh and tell stories. Never again would we shop and eat until we were sick. At least not on this earth. I smiled through my tears as I pictured my grammee in the arms of Jesus with no pain… running, jumping, dancing. That’s how I will remember my grammee. She is not the old woman in the bed but the young woman living death to its fullest in the arms of her Savior. Goodbye little Grammee. I love you. I’ll come see you soon.